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Give a dog a bone

he power of positive thinking helped the doggedly determined Pamela Dennison ’78 improve her career.

Dennison is the proud owner of Positive Motivation Dog Training, a dog school that makes traditional dog training roll over and play dead. “I began with traditional training,” Dennison says, “which focuses on controlling behaviors using punishment or the threat of punishment.” But once she discovered a better way to train, she changed her ways. Her new approach, Positive Training, is reward-driven. “Dogs don't learn like humans.” she says. “Positive training reaches any dog with a problem.” She claims that with her methods, “the dogs always respond.”

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts, Dennison spent 20 years as a printing estimator. As she put it, “I found the experience horrid. I was sure I was headed for a breakdown.” Positive thinking pulled Dennison out of the career doghouse. In 1992, she adopted a dog and enrolled in a training class. “I fell in love with the process,” she says.

Five years later she bought a pet grooming shop and began training dogs part time in a local pig barn. She became a full-time trainer in 1999 and now operates her own facility in Blairstown. Because hers is the state’s only 100 percent positive dog training center, clients drive from over two hours away to benefit from Dennison's unique form of training.

Dennison's approach pays dividends for her and the dogs she trains. She says, “what I love most about the business is seeing the dogs succeed, seeing the smiles on the owners’ faces and seeing the light bulb come on in the dog’s eyes that they really understand now.”

from spring ’01

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